Lobo Invitational Preview
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/11/2013
New Mexico hosts the Lobo Invitational (all times Mountain Standard)

4:30 p.m. - Northern Arizona vs. Abilene Christian, Live Stats
7:00 p.m. - Lobos vs. Towson, Live Stats | WATCH LIVE (LoboTV/MWN)

Promotion: FATHER-DAUGTHER DAY - $3-ticket for fathers with their daughters. The Lobos will sign autographs and talk to fathers and daughters following the 1 p.m., match.

10:30 a.m. - Northern Arizona vs. Towson, Live Stats
1:00 p.m. - Lobos vs. Abilene Christian, Live Stats | WATCH LIVE (LoboTV/MWN)
5:00 p.m. - Towson vs. Abilene Christian, Live Stats
7:30 p.m. - Lobos vs. Northern Arizona, Live Stats | WATCH LIVE (LoboTV/MWN)


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It's another full weekend of Lobo volleyball in the Johnson Center as New Mexico hosts Towson, Abilene Christian and Northern Arizona for the Lobo Invitational Friday evening and all day Saturday.

"We're excited for this weekend and to play at home again," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "Everybody is healthy, working hard and doing good things."

The Lobos are coming off a 3-0 weekend in their own Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic in which they swept both UC Riverside and Idaho State on the first day of the tourney, before taking a 3-1 contest from Georgia Tech. New Mexico drew over 2,300 fans to Johnson over the three Classic matches.

"We were able to come out and play some really good ball," Nelson said of last weekend. "We opened with a strong match against UC Riverside and then in the evening, played Idaho State. They were big and strong and returned all of their players from last year. We knew it would be a big match for us and we played our best match of the year and swept them in three. We had great control of the match and played fast, exciting ball."

"Saturday we came back and played Georgia Tech, who is very athletic and caused some problems at the net. I think our biggest problem was we won the first set too easy and then had to gut out the [match] win after that."

The Lobos have some hefty competition in the three teams that trek to Albuquerque this weekend.

The Towson Tigers are 3-6 overall and are coming off an 0-3 loss at the University of Maryland Baltimore County on Sept. 10. Last weekend, Towson went 1-2 at the N.C. State Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. The Tigers took Binghamton in five sets before being swept by Appalachian State and then dropping a 3-1 contest to North Carolina State.

Outside hitter Saitaua Iosia leads the Tigers with a 2.91 kills-per-set average and has a total of 93 kills over nine matches. Right-side hitter Victoria Williams is second on the team with a set average of 2.62 kills. Kelsey Polak is the Tigers’ setter and has a 7.73 assist-per-set average.

While it will be the first meeting between Towson and the University of New Mexico on the volleyball court, the Tigers might look slightly familiar as first-year head coach Don Metil was at University of Maryland Eastern Shore for six seasons prior to taking over Towson’s program spring of 2013. The Lobos topped UMES, 3-1, last year in Savannah, Ga., at the Savannah State Tiger Invitational.

"Towson is another team that is always at the top of their conference and a team that will contend for postseason at the end of the year," Nelson said.

The new-to-Division I Abilene Christian Wildcats are 3-2 and are coming off a big 3-1 win at home against Texas Tech on Sept. 10. ACU had played at Texas Tech and dropped a 0-3 contest to the Red Raiders, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19, on Sept. 3.

The Wildcats held TTU to a .129 hitting percentage, including a -.021 mark in the first set. ACU hit .229 and was led by sophomore Jennifer Loerch who had 16 kills (.222) and added 14 digs. New Mexico plays at Texas Tech on Oct. 23.

Loerch is Abilene Christian’s leader at the net with a 3.17 kill-per-set average. Freshman middle blocker Lexi Mercier adds 1.80 kills-per-set. Setter Sarah Siemens, a sophomore, dishes out 7.95 assists/set.

Northern Arizona is 5-1 overall and is coming off a 2-1 weekend at its Fiesta Bowl Tournament. NAU opened their home tournament with a sweep of Mountain West preseason No. 1 San Diego State, 28-26, 30-28, 25-22, on Sept. 6, before sweeping Idaho (25-18, 27-25, 25-23) and dropping a four-set decision to Cal State Northridge (25-20, 20-25, 22-25, 10-25).

Sophomore outside hitter Janae Vander Ploeg leads the team with 3.26 kills-per-set and adds 2.63 digs/set. Junior middle blocker Taylor Stephens averages 1.68 kills/set and leads the Lumberjacks in blocks with a set average of 1.11. Setting duties are handled by freshman Jensen Barton who averages 10.58 assists/set.

"NAU is another team that won 25 games last year," Nelson said. "I think they're one of the best non-BCS teams right now. They're really good and they're playing really tough ball. It will be a good match for us on Saturday night."


All-time record vs. Towson:
First meeting
All-time record vs. Abilene Christian:
First meeting
All-time record vs. Northern Arizona:
UNM leads, 12-9. NAU won last meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz., 3-2 on Sept. 3, 2011...the last time UNM beat NAU was Sept. 1, 2007 at home, 3-1
Senior Libero Miquella Lovato’s career dig total sits at 962
Four Lobos Rank Top 65 Nationally:
Ross is No. 38 for hitting percentage (.419); Riddle is No. 41 for kills/set (4.05) & No. 42 for points/set (4.64); Lovato is No. 52 for digs/set (4.86) & Johnson is No. 64 for assists/set (10.62).
Lobos atop the Mountain West:
Lobos are No. 1 in opponent hitting percentage (.142); Riddle is No. 1 among MW players for kills/set & points/set; Johnson is tied for second with four double-doubles

LOBOS WIN SHERATON AIRPORT CLASSIC...The Lobos went 3-0 in their home-opening weekend and were the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic champions. New Mexico swept UC Riverside (25-20, 25-17, 25-11) on the afternoon of Sept. 6 before sweeping Idaho State (25-22, 25-11, 25-18) in the evening match. The Lobos defeated Georgia Tech, 3-1 (25-17, 16-25, 27-25, 25-23), on Saturday to close out the tournament.

LOVATO & JOHNSON NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT; RIDDLE UNANIMOUS MVP...Three Lobos earned tournament honors for their play in the three matches of the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic over the weekend. Senior Libero Miquella Lovato had 48 digs on the weekend (a set average of 4.80), and for the second time this season, led all players in a four-team tournament in digs. Redshirt sophomore setter Hannah Johnson had 110 set assists on the weekend, including a season-high 41 against the Yellow Jackets. Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle was the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player. The right-side hitter had a tournament-best 45 kills over UNM’s three matches and hit .340 (45k-10e-103ta). She added 26 digs and seven blocks while recording 48.5 points in the Classic. It was the second tournament honor of the season for both Lovato and Riddle.

SWEET SWEEP STREAK...New Mexico had a sweep streak of three matches going before Georgia Tech took the second set of the Lobos 3-1 win on Sept. 7. Prior to that, New Mexico won three sets over Northwestern State on Aug. 31, and swept both UC Riverside and Idaho State on Sept. 6 for a total of nine-consecutive set wins.

RANKED NATIONALLY...Through two weeks of play four Lobos are ranked in the top 65 nationally: Lexi Ross is No. 38 for hitting percentage, boasting a .419 through the first six matches; Chantale Riddle is No. 41 for kills/set with 4.05 and No. 42 for points/set with 4.64; Miquella Lovato is No. 52 in digs/set with 4.86 and Hannah Johnson is No. 64 in assists/set with 10.62.

SHE'LL 'DIGGITY', NO DOUBT...Lobo Libero Miquella Lovato is averaging 4.86 digs-per-set and there’s not much the senior misses in the back court, leaving no doubt in her teammates’ minds she’s protecting the court. Her career dig total is currently at 962, which means she needs 38 to reach the 1,000-dig milestone. Her season-high is 23, which came in a sweep of Northwestern State on Aug. 31. Her career-high is 27, which she did twice last year; in a 3-2 win over UALR on Sept. 14 and the other in a 3-1 loss at Fresno State on Sept. 27. Lovato is second in the league for digs-per-set, trailing Wyoming senior Libero Becky Stewart who averages 4.96.

RIDDLE LEADING THE LEAGUE IN KILLS & POINTS...Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle leads the league in kills and in points with set averages of 4.05 and 4.64, respectively. The Lobos’ top offensive player led the league in both categories a majority of last season and finished as the league leader.

YOU GOT SWATTED...Nothing seems to pump the Lobos up more than a big block, particularly from sophomore Skye Gullatt. The middle blocker is seventh among Mountain West players in blocks with a set average of 1.09. In 11 sets played Gullatt has five solo stuffs and seven block assists. She's a big reason the Lobos are No. 1 among MW teams in opponent hitting percentage (.142)

JOHNSON IS 4-FOR-6 IN DOUBLE-DOUBLES...Redshirt junior Hannah Johnson had a double-double in all three of the Lobos’ opening weekend matches in Arkansas and tallied another in New Mexico’s home opening match on Sept. 6.

BALANCED 'BOS...Thirteen Lobo players saw action over the three matches in the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic, Sept. 6-7. Head coach Jeff Nelson says this year’s squad is one of the most balanced he’s had in recent years and feels he can rotate players without New Mexico’s level of play dropping. It’s a credit to the high level of play the six newcomers have brought to the squad. FEEL THAT FRESHMEN IMPACT...The six newcomers have had a significant impact on the Lobo squad, specifically in the outside (L1 and L2) positions. Julia Warren is a six-rotation outside who is averaging 2.24 kills/set and 2.76 digs/set. Freshmen Cassie House and Devanne Sours have seen equal action in the front row as outside hitters. House averages 1.38 kills/set and has one block assist while Sours is averaging 2.33 kills/set and has a block solo and a block assists. Maddie Mayfield fills in in the back row for House or Sours and the La Cueva graduate is average 1.65 digs/set and co-leads the team in ace serves with five (Miquella Lovato also has five).


Thursday, August 20
6:30 PM - 
vs. Cherry vs. Silver
Friday, August 28
8:00 AM - 
at Belmont
3:00 PM - 
at Albany
Saturday, August 29
5:00 PM - 
at Ball State